I stopped breathing when I heard the news. I had to remind myself to inhale, to exhale. To go on.

Breathless used to mean something extraordinarily special. Not that you’ve just had the wind knocked out of you.

Knocked out of you because the world, as you knew it, ceased to exist in an instant. The floor drops, the other shoe drops, your heart drops. And you forget how to breathe.

I believe in freedom, in diversity, in equality, in acceptance, in love. Color me stupid, I really thought we were a country of lovers when, in fact, we are a country of haters. I want to still love. I am trying to still love. Trying to breathe and trying to love, and trying to breathe love into everything around me.

I have only so much breath to spare.

I was raised as an orthodox Jewess, with a family committed to miztvot – good deeds. We do for others so that we can be full, so that we can be whole, so that we can be the best we can be while we are on this earth.

I dedicate my four years of services to my ancestors who fought for freedom, diversity, equality, acceptance, and love. For my ancestors who never had a chance to fight because their freedoms were violently taken away.

I will turn to my friends and family for extra air when the levels are low. And I will pledge my breath, my heart, and my love to heal the hate that threatens to crush our collective chests.